To commemorate this year's Black History Month, Real Gone is reissuing three albums by African-American artists from the 1950s and 1970s in the doo-wop, jazz and soul genres: Flamingo Serenade by The Flamingos, Circles from William S. Fischer, and Super Slick from Don Julian & The Larks. All of them hit stores tomorrow, February 4.
First up is 1959's Flamingo Serenade by the influential doo-wop group, The Flamingos. Founded in Chicago in 1953 by Jacob Carey, Ezekiel Carey, Paul Wilson, and Johnny Carter, the band achieved early, regional success and had their first national R&B chart hit in 1955, "I'll Be Home," for Chess subsidiary Checker Records. The group had gone through a few line-up changes and had a few more before they ended up on George Goldner's End Records in 1958. By then, the roster consisted of Jacob Carey, Ezekiel Carey, Wilson, and newer members Sollie McElroy, Terry Johnson, and Tommy Hunt. Goldner wanted the group to utilize their intricate harmonies to cover mostly pop standards for their first LP, Flamingo Serenade. As such, the album contains tunes from, among others, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, and George and Ira Gershwin. But it was a cover of the 1934 standard "I Only Have Eyes For You," written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, which would give the group its biggest hit. Peaking at No. 11 on the Pop chart and No. 3 on the R&B survey, the single would become known as one of the defining cuts of the doo-wop genre. It ranked No. 178 on Rolling Stone's first list of "The Greatest 500 Songs of All Time." Following this success, several members would splinter off into solo endeavors, but the group itself continued to record into the 1990s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Real Gone's new vinyl reissue presents the original stereo version of Flamingo Serenade. This is the album's first reissue on vinyl since 1981 and its first reissue outside of Japan since 1991. It comes on powder blue vinyl to match the group's tuxedos on the front cover of the album.
Next up is William S. Fischer's Circles from 1970. The keyboard/saxophone player, born in Shelby, Mississippi, worked early in his career in the 1950s with artists such as Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Guitar Slim, and Big Joe Turner. After earning a bachelor and master's degree, Fischer would teach at Xavier University and in New York public schools. He also studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performance from 1965-1966 where he became interested in electronic music. It was there he met early jazz fusion artist Joe Zawinul. Fischer would pen five of the six tracks on Zawinul's 1968 album The Rise and Fall of the Third Stream and also go on to arrange for Herbie Mann. This led to Fischer signing with Mann's Atlantic imprint, Embryo Records. His sole release for the label was Circles in 1970, for which he wrote all of the songs. The album is mix of funk, rock, soul, and fusion, prominently incorporating a Moog synthesizer. He was joined on the LP by bassist Ron Carter, guitarists Eric Weissberg and Hugh McCracken, drummer Billy Cobham, and a five-piece cello section. Fischer would record two more solo albums before returning to sideman work and collaborating with Roberta Flack, Yusef Lateef, Gene Ammons, Roland Kirk and Pharoah Sanders, among others.
The new vinyl reissue from Real Gone is the first vinyl pressing of the album since its initial release. It is limited to 2,000 copies and comes on "black ice" vinyl. The LP also preserves the original circle cut-out stencil cover and includes new liner notes by Peter Relic with quotes from Fischer.
Real Gone's third release is a reissue of 1974's Super Slick by Don Julian & The Larks. In the 1950s, Julian began performing with several local groups, the most famous of which was The Meadowlarks. The doo-wop group recorded a few singles on several labels and by the 1960s had become The Larks, on Money Records. It was there that they recorded "The Jerk," their only national hit, which peaked at No. 7 on the pPop chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart. They remained on Money and continued to record with Julian, also turning to soundtrack work such as for the 1973 blaxploitation film Savage!. The next year, Julian became involved with another film in the genre, Shorty the Pimp. The movie may have taken its inspiration from a song of the same name The Larks had recorded in 1968, and they were reportedly featured as a band in some sequences. However, that film was never actually seen by the public. A majority of the material on Super Slick is shared with the Shorty the Pimp film soundtrack, albeit in different forms. It is unknown which project came first. The album is 70s soul with similarities to Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes and includes original material and covers such as the Jerry Fuller-written, Al Wilson hit "Show and Tell," Bread's "Make It with You," The Temptations' "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)," The Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." After this album, the recording career of Don Julian & The Larks pretty much ended. Julian passed away in 1998.
This new vinyl release is the first reissue of the album. It comes in two colors: blue and "hellfire red," the latter of which is limited to just 200 copies and only available from Real Gone's website.
If you would like to give any these titles due out tomorrow a try, we've got the full tracklistings and ordering links below.
The Flamingos, Flamingo Serenade (Originally released on End LP SLP-304, 1959 - reissued Real Gone Music, 2022) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music)
- Love Walked In
- Music Maestro Please
- Begin the Beguine
- The Breeze and I
- Time Was
- Goodnight Sweetheart
- I Only Have Eyes for You
- I'm in the Mood for Love
- As Time Goes By
- Where or When
- But Not for Me
William S. Fischer, Circles (Limited "Black Ice" Vinyl Edition) (Originally released on Embryo Records LP SD 529, 1970 - reissued Real Gone Music, 2022) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music)
- Patience Is Virtue
- There's a Light That Shines
- Green Forever
Don Julian & The Larks, Super Slick (Originally released on Money Records LP MS-1110, 1974 - reissued Real Gone Music, 2022) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music)
- Super Slick
- (Ooh Baby) I Love You
- Shorty the Pimp
- Make It with You
- Show and Tell
- Just My Imagination
- Schoolin and Foolin
- Respect Yourself
- A Woman Ain't Nothing but a Stone Trip
- Let's Stay Together
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